Pub Rants


 20 Comments |  Share This:    

STATUS: I need a quiet day to read. And just read.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? MOTHER AND CHILD REUNION by Paul Simon

As promised, the general bones of my letter to the editors regarding Jamie Ford’s project. Jane von Mehren at Random House won the auction so I put her name in the salutation.

I actually had a meeting with Jane earlier this summer where I mentioned this project. She was great about emailing me every few weeks just to get an update on when I was submitting it.

She loves this novel, and we are thrilled to work with her on it.

Hello Jane,

This novel my book club needs to read right now—who cares about publication. I started HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET at 9 p.m. on a Monday night. I thought I would give it a quick look because I knew the author already had an agent offer on the table. I figured I would know within the first 50 pages whether it was right for me. Well, after 10 pages, I realized that I had to tell myself to breathe. There were sections that literally had my heart racing and I needed to skip to end of the chapter just to discover what happens. Then I would go back and read what I had missed, my heart still pounding.

And if you don’t feel this same way as the story unfolds, you’ll know this manuscript is not the right one for you.

HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET is the story of Henry Lee, a Chinese boy in Seattle who falls in love (although it is forbidden) with a Japanese girl named Keiko right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It is also the story of Henry Lee as a middle-aged man forty years later who, when passing by Seattle’s old Japantown’s Panama Hotel, stumbles into a news conference on the hotel steps where the new owner has discovered in the basement the untouched belongings of thirty interned Japanese families. When the owner unfolds, for the news cameras, a Japanese bamboo parasol with a bright orange koi painted on it, Henry instantly recognizes it as Keiko’s. In that moment, he can no longer suppress his familiar and never forgotten longing and he must confront the memories and the choices he did or did not make all those years ago.

Growing up near Seattle’s Chinatown, the author Jamie Ford was called “Ja Mei” by his Chinese relatives—which quickly became “Jamie” to the rest of the world. He is also an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and a survivor of Orson Scott Card’s Literary Bootcamp. In 2006 he took First Place in the Clarity of Night “Twin Lights” Fiction Contest, and his short-story, “I am Chinese” was a Top 25 Finalist in Glimmer Train’s 2006 Short-Story Award for New Writers. He is currently an advertising creative director and HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET is his debut novel.

This is an unforgettable story about fathers and sons. About love and the choices we make that can forever change our lives.

I can’t wait to have someone else to talk to about this novel.

All Best,

20 Responses

  1. Urraca said:

    What impresses me so much about both of these letters to editors is just how much Kristin puts herself on the line in them. I think it helps explain why she is such a successful agent.

  2. Chumplet said:

    I like how the agent has the freedom to extol the virtues of the manuscript without sounding self-serving. Authors don’t have the chance to say why they like their own work, and must craft a letter that says so without seeming obvious.

  3. Anonymous said:

    I can only hope my agent writes about my ms with such unbridled enthusiasm – this was a beautifully written letter

  4. JDuncan said:

    This is one of the few books I’ve come across lately in online blurbs and such that has me thinking that I may actually have to buy it when it comes out. It sounds like a wonderful story. Must say this has movie deal written all over it too. Grats to Jamie and Kristen.


  5. Berni said:

    I just hope that when I get my qurey together it sounds as good as this letter did to the editor! I love that Kristin loves what she does! Very positive!

  6. Anonymous said:

    This is completely off subject. Is American West settings dead? I read Avon’s submission guidelines and it said under historical romance mainly set before 1900 in Great Britain. So is American West going to be hard to shop around?

  7. Termagant 2 said:

    Anon 1:05, if you write Christian fiction, 1800s western is apparently the ONLY period they want. Recent chats on CBA authors’ loops indicate the pubs don’t want Revolutionary War, medieval, reformation, or any one of a dozen interest-worthy time periods.

    On second thought, I guess Biblical fic is okay.

  8. Jill James said:

    I finally understand what agents mean about loving a story in order to sell it. I can not wait for this book. I was teary-eyed over the parasol as well. Congratulations to Mr. Ford and Ms. Nelson.

  9. Morgan said:

    It’s great how the editor is really getting into the enthusiasm for the book. Not just saying, “It’s great, let’s buy it!” The editor is really, really getting into it because they love it. I’m dying to read this book!

  10. Anonymous said:

    Nearly a year later, I HAVE read this book . . . and you will, too!! Kristin was SPOT ON in her first mention that she “knew in the first 10 pages.” So when this book is OUT, Jamie will be invited to book group expo . . . because this IS a book club read! Ann at book group expo!